Officials busted a $7-million prostitution ring they said operated an agency in a Manhattan office to advertise Asian women on websites like the Village Voice and Craigslist.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the bust Tuesday, saying that officers arrested 19 people in a morning sting, where they also found a trafficking victim.
The extensive operation included drivers, one who had been in prison for a home-invasion robbery, bookers to answer calls and Somad, an advertising agency that officials say created and monitored the ads.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the agency workers were so savvy that they advised not to waste time posting ads during the Super Bowl, when fewer potential customers would be paying attention.
“This is almost like the mob goes to business school,” he said.
The operation prostituted about 40 women at any given time, mostly Korean and Chinese women, and made about $7 million in two and a half years, Kelly said.
“It essentially shows what you can do if you have a very high level of creativity and a very low level of morality,” Schneiderman said.
The ring, which operated out of a 25th Street office, also included operatives in Queens, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Philippines.
Officials said that one of the customers was David Mendelowitz, a guidance counselor and dean at Scarsdale High School.
He paid for prostitutes and cocaine, according to the criminal complaint, even as he was involved in the school’s Drug and Alcohol Task Force.
The 16-month investigation revealed that the prostitutes also supplied cocaine, in one case even one’s daughter ferrying cocaine to a client, Kelly said.
Two human-trafficking victims are now with Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit shelter, Kelly said.
One of the women, rescued Tuesday, was a 31-year-old woman who had just arrived from Korea this week, Kelly added.
A friend told her to meet her in the city, and instead people from the escort service arrived, he said. She told cops they took all the money and that she only worked for tips.
“She had no idea where she was in New York or how to get home,” Kelly said.